Baker proud of his time as Eagles' P.A. announcer

Dan Baker, who was fired last week as the Eagles P.A. announcer after 29 years, has served in that role for the Phillies for 42 seasons.
Dan Baker, who was fired last week as the Eagles P.A. announcer after 29 years, has served in that role for the Phillies for 42 seasons. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 17, 2014

As Dan Baker left Lincoln Financial Field after the Eagles' postseason loss in January, he was already looking forward to his 30th season as the team's public-address announcer. Addressing the Philadelphia crowd had been an autumn ritual; he never missed a game in 29 years.

But there will not be a 30th season for Baker. The Eagles announced last week that he would not return. They told him they were "going in a new direction."

"It was kind of a surprise to me, I really hadn't heard any complaints or anything like that," said Baker, who also has announced Phillies games for 42 years. "But in this business . . . you serve at the pleasure of ownership and management. They're entitled to hiring whomever they want, with or without justification."

The Eagles said in a news release that the game-day experience is evolving, with audio and visual enhancements, and the P.A. role is no longer the responsibility of one person. Stadium renovations totaling $125 million are scheduled to be completed for this season.

"Dan is the ultimate professional, and even though he was disappointed with the direction we are heading, he was accepting of our decision to make the change," team president Don Smolenski said in the statement. "We are very appreciative of his dedication and service. He never missed a single game."

The Eagles declined to comment on Baker's dismissal.

Baker was a spotter for broadcasters before becoming the Eagles' P.A. announcer in 1985. He took pride in the speed and accuracy of his announcements, helped by two spotters during his career - his brother for 14 years and his son for the last 15 years.

Baker's fondest memory was announcing the 2004 NFC championship game that advanced the Eagles to the Super Bowl. His announcing of popular players such as Reggie White and Donovan McNabb drew favorable responses, but Baker also found joy in calling names that carried a certain melody, such as "Hol-lis Thom-as."

Baker said fans took delight in hearing him exclaim, "That's another Eagles first down!"

"I cherish announcing the games all these years, put my heart and soul into every game, and loved every minute of it," Baker said. "The fans' response to the team and some of the announcement was just terrific. They're loyal, they're knowledgeable, they're passionate, and I'd like to think I share some of those characteristics."

In the days following Baker's dismissal, he spent every waking hour responding to supportive friends and fans.

Many asked what he will do on Sundays during the season. He does not know. Baker loved his job and loved the Eagles. He expects to still root for the team, although he said there's a "void" in his life.

Baker said he asked about finishing his 30th season but was told the decision had been made. He emphasized his appreciation for the job and how it's important for him to vacate the role in the proper way.

"I feel like I should exit with head held high, not as a complainer, as a whiner," Baker said. "I'm very proud of the job that I did. I have no regrets. I'll put my work against any P.A. announcer in the National Football League.

"You hope you've done a good-enough job to warrant additional years, but in the end, if someone wants a different style or different method of delivering their message, they're entitled to do that."

Baker took over for Matt Goukas Sr., who served as announcer from 1953 to 1985. Baker grew up listening to Goukas' voice.

Between the two of them, the Eagles have had only two primary voices echo through their stadiums for 61 years. Baker is proud to be one.

"Even if I'm disappointed in the decision, I had a great run," Baker said. "I'm very proud of the role I held for all those years. I hope the fans enjoyed it. I know one thing: I enjoyed everything immensely."


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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